Following its acquisition by SiriusXM in September, Pandora today announced that it will begin offering specialized podcast curation under the Podcast Genome Project. Similar to its Music Genome Project, the PGP will launch in a public beta format and combine human curation with advanced machine learning to offer users specific podcast recommendations, "down to the episodic level."
Pandora says that the Podcast Genome Project will evaluate content based on more than 1,500 attributes like MPAA ratings, timely topics, production style, content type, host profile, and combine this with listener signals like thumb ratings, skips, and replays. Machine learning algorithms, natural language processing, and collaborative filtering methods will also work in tandem with Pandora's in-house curation team to give each user unique podcast recommendations that evolve as their preferences change.
“It might feel like podcasts are ubiquitous, but, eighty-three percent of Americans aren’t yet listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, and a majority of them report that’s because they simply don’t know where to start,” said Roger Lynch, Chief Executive Officer, Pandora. “Making podcasts - both individual episodes and series - easy to discover and simple to experience is how we plan to greatly grow podcast listening while simultaneously creating new and more sustainable ways to monetize them.”
Pandora's podcast partners include PM, Gimlet, HeadGum, Libsyn, Maximum Fun, NPR, Parcast, PRX+PRI, reVolver, Slate, The New York Times, The Ramsey Network, The Ringer, WNYC Studios, and Wondery. The company says that these partners and the amount of podcasts on the platform will continue to grow over time.
Besides podcast listening, Pandora offers online radio streaming to its users, and last year launched "Pandora Premium" as a competitor to Apple Music and Spotify. At $9.99 per month, subscribers can ditch ads, search for and play any song, create playlists, download music for offline listening, and receive unlimited skips and replays.
While Apple Podcasts has been the hub for many users to listen to their favorites shows, more of the company's competitors have begun supporting podcasts as interest in the format grows. In the summer of 2017, a report by Bloomberg claimed that Spotify was planning to "come after" Apple with a strong push into podcasts, and since then it has added NPR's catalog of podcasts and the BBC's shows into the music streaming app.
Those interested in Pandora's Podcast Genome Project can sign up for the beta here.